Six Things to Do With an Old T-Shirt

Don't throw away all your t-shirts—Make a craft!

old tshirts

The t-shirt (or t shirt) has been a part of American fashion since WWI, when soldiers first started wearing them under their heavy wool uniforms. But it wasn’t until the late 50s, when Marlon Brando and James Dean co-opted them, that t-shirts really took off.

Early t-shirts where primarily white and thin because they were designed to be worn under your clothes. Over the years the t-shirt has grown: becoming longer, thicker, and more colorful. The t-shirt is also synonymous with casual comfort, and you can even find bed sheets made of t-shirt material.

But, as with all clothing, there comes a time when you can no longer wear that t-shirt outdoors. If you’re lucky, you can repurpose it as a night shirt but, eventually, what once proudly proclaimed “Frankie Says Relax,” will lie in tatters at the bottom of your drawer.

Before you throw that t-shirt away, or relegate it to the rag bag, here are some ideas for repurposing your treasure.

Decorative Cushion Covers: This works especially well with printed shirts. Preserve the aforementioned “Frankie Says Relax” or your old Che Guevera t-shirt on your couch for all posterity. Or, pass it on to your high-school or college-aged kids.

Home Craft Projects: Remember those woven pot holders you used to make in kindergarten? Well, you can make those with your kids using strips of old t-shirt. And if the shirt is one-hundred percent cotton, it will make really absorbent pot holders and woven hand towels. You can also use strips of t-shirt as material for rag rugs, knot work, and anything else where you would use yarn or rope.

Re-Dye Them: Sometimes the only really wrong with a t-shirt is that the color has faced, or it’s a little stained. You can cover up some of these flaws by dyeing the shirt a darker color, and making cool patterns with tie-dye or batik. That white shirt with the pit stains can become a colorful tie-dye in a matter of hours. And you can re-dye shirts with or without logos on them. As a matter of fact, shits with printing make even more interesting patterns.

Check out this really easy way to tie-dye a t-shirt using Sharpie pens!

Make Doll Clothes: Sometimes doll clothes are as expensive as clothes for your kids. Depending on how thick the shirt is, you can use it to make a dress, a skirt and jacket, a blouse. You are really only limited by your imagination (or your access to patterns), the amount of fabric you have, and sewing skill.

Make Kids’ Clothes: Depending on how big your kids are, and how big your t-shirt, you  could have enough fabric to make comfortable play clothes for your kids, or costumes at Halloween. As with the doll clothes, the sky’s the limit, as long as you have enough fabric for the job.

Hair Bands: T-shirt sleeves make excellent hair bands, because they are soft and stretchy. If the sleeve does not fit around your head, you can cut it into smaller rings and use them as hair ties. And because the fabric is so soft, it’s less likely to cause breakage—unlike elastic bands.

So, before you say good-bye to an old friend, give it new life by reusing it in a craft project.

Looking for more crafts? Did you know you can reuse your old records to make cool kids crafts?

Sara is freelance writer from Southern California who loves writing about family. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.